Downing Street admits MPs could undo Theresa May's Chequers deal after Brexit: Brexit News for Tuesday 18th September

Downing Street admits MPs could undo Theresa May's Chequers deal after Brexit: Brexit News for Tuesday 18th September

Downing Street admits MPs could undo Theresa May’s Chequers deal after Brexit…

Downing Street has admitted that a future parliament could be free to unpick Theresa May’s Brexit deal after Britain has left the European Union. Her spokesman responded to comments from prominent Brexiteer Michael Gove, who said a future prime minister could still alter Britain’s relationship with the EU after Brexit. The prime minister is facing intense pressure to ditch her Chequers blueprint, which former foreign secretary Boris Johnson compared to a “spectacular political car crash”, as part of a concerted push by hardline Brexiteers to persuade Ms May to change course. Mr Gove, the environment secretary, offered muted support for the plan on Sunday, saying it is “the right one for now” but it could be altered by a future prime minister. – Independent

…but the EU wants guarantees that any deal could not be unpicked…

The European Union is insisting on cast iron guarantees that Britain will not attempt to reopen the terms of any Brexit deal after it has been signed, confidential diplomatic notes reveal. The Times has learnt that, in a rebuff to Michael Gove, Brussels is preparing to demand that Theresa May makes “credible” assurances that any deal will not be unpicked by her successor
Mr Gove, the environment secretary, claimed at the weekend that a future prime minister could “choose to alter” the relationship between Britain and the EU. The comments were an attempt to assuage the concerns of Brexiteers that signing up to a Chequers-style plan would shackle Britain to European regulations indefinitely. – The Times (£)

…as EU officials claim the UK will shift Brexit stance in its ‘darkest hour’…

The British government will have to experience its “darkest hour” and stare into the abyss of a no-deal Brexit before it will cave in to Brussels demands, senior EU diplomats have predicted. Ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Salzburg, diplomats in Brussels privately warned that Theresa May still needed to make a significant shift on her red lines for a deal to be possible, with the Irish border issue remaining a major hurdle in the talks. The stark prediction came as a French government official said that the president, Emmanuel Macron, wanted to nail down the key terms of the future deal now, rather than allow any ambiguous drift on the major issues after 29 March 2019. – Guardian

…yet Michel Barnier insists that the Brexit talks are being undertaken in ‘a spirit of good cooperation’

Talks between the European Union and Britain on Brexit are being conducted in a spirit of “good cooperation”, Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator on the issue, said on Monday.Barnier was in Madrid to brief Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez and Foreign Minister Josep Borrell on the progress in the Brexit negotiations. A Spanish government source said Barnier would also discuss Gibraltar, a British territory on Spain’s southern coast which will leave the EU along with the UK on March 29 next year. “We continue working in a spirit of good cooperation,” Barnier told reporters as he left the Foreign Ministry. Despite Barnier’s upbeat mood, there is, so far, no full exit agreement and some rebels in British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservative Party have threatened to vote down a deal if she clinches one with the EU. Former Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis told Reuters in an interview in April that Spain hoped to reach a bilateral agreement with Britain over Gibraltar before October so as not to hinder any Brexit transition deal. – Reuters

The EU’s reported movement on the Irish backstop would still keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union…

EU officials have been redrafting the Irish backstop protocol in a bid to make it more palatable to London, but the EU Brexit Task Force remains convinced that Northern Ireland will have to remain part of the EU’s customs regime if a hard border is to be avoided, RTÉ News understands. Sources say the Task Force has been trying to meet UK concerns by changing both language and emphasis in the original text, including the idea that British inspectors in UK ports could carry out limited checks on their own – and not in the presence of EU inspectors – to ensure customs and standards compliance for goods moving to Northern Ireland. Officials are also looking to reinforce the idea that any future trade relationship that obviates the need for a hard border on the island of Ireland would “supersede” the provisions of the backstop. – RTE

…prompting DUP MEP Diane Dodds to accuse the EU of seeking to ‘cut adrift’ Northern Ireland

The EU’s chief negotiator wants British officials to police goods travelling between Belfast and the rest of the UK to “de-dramatise” internal UK checks. Eurocrats are trying to calm fears their backstop proposal will create an Irish Sea border by using technological solutions pinched from Brexiteers. But Unionists said they will continue to reject any plan that keeps just Northern Ireland in the Customs Union and parts of the Single Market. Their opposition to the new proposal effectively kills it stone dead because Theresa May wouldn’t be able to get in through parliament. The DUP’s sole representative in Brussels, Diane Dodds, questioned whether the new plan “represents a serious departure from the EU’s dogmatic stance”. – The Sun

EU citizens won’t get preferential treatment on immigration after Brexit, hints Theresa May…

EU migrants will not get special treatment after Brexit, Theresa May has suggested, ahead of the launch of a major report into immigration on Tuesday.  The Prime Minister said British people voted for a fairer immigration system as she gave the strongest hint yet that the Government will implement a policy which treats all migrants the same no matter where they come from.  Her remarks appear to suggest a row over what the future migration system may look like has been settled, amid claims Philip Hammond, the Chancellor, was campaigning behind the scenes for EU nationals to be given preferential treatment under the new rules. – Telegraph (£)

  • May hints EU migrants won’t get preferential treatment after Brexit – Daily Mail
  • May hints EU citizens won’t get automatic rights to come to UK – Express

…amidst speculation that Sajid Javid could introduce visas for EU citizens

Sajid Javid, the home secretary, has suggested to colleagues that he wants to introduce limits and visas for EU citizens after Brexit. In a move likely to cause tit-for-tat retaliation by Europe, the Home Office informed cabinet ministers last week of its intention to copy the existing migration system used to determine non-EU migration and apply it to Europeans who arrive in Britain after December 2020. The new system, which is still being agreed across government, will be sold as a “global” migration system, ending free movement for the EU.The Times (£)

UK economy will shrink without a Brexit deal, warns IMF…

Britain’s economy will shrink if it leaves the European Union without a Brexit deal and it will suffer some damage whatever terms it agrees, the International Monetary Fund said on Monday, challenging the promises of some Brexit supporters.The Fund predicted Britain’s economy would grow by about 1.5 percent a year in 2018 and 2019 — lagging behind Germany and France — if a broad Brexit agreement was struck. “I’m a desperate optimist, and I very much hope and pray that there will be a deal between the European Union and the UK,” IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said. But failure to get a deal would lead to a contraction, she said.- Reuters

…as Philip Hammond voices concern about the cost of a messy Brexit…

A messy Brexit that sees Britain leave the European Union with no deal or transition period would risk undoing ten years of hard work spent fixing the public finances and the economy, Philip Hammond has said. Speaking as the International Monetary Fund launched its annual Article IV health check of the economy, the chancellor said that he was confident that the two sides would “reach an agreement this autumn” but added that although a disastrous no-deal Brexit was unlikely it was “not impossible. Leaving without a deal would put at risk the substantial progress the British people have made over the past ten years in repairing our economy.” – The Times (£)

Gloomy Philip Hammond risks Brexiteer fury with more scare warnings that no deal would put UK economy at risk – The Sun

…but the Chancellor has been ‘consistently wrong’, says Jacob Rees-Mogg

The Chancellor joined International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde yesterday at the launch of a report raising alarm about possible “substantial costs” for the UK economy in the event of the country quitting the EU without a trade agreement. He also suggested a breakdown in the Brussels talks could reverse the “progress” made by the British economy in recovering from the financial crisis a decade ago. But Brexit supporters were dismayed to see the Chancellor closely aligning himself with the IMF following the organisation’s recession warnings during the EU referendum campaign. Senior Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group of MPs, said: “The Chancellor continues to do his best to obstruct Brexit and has been consistently wrong. It is hardly newsworthy as the needle has now been stuck for so long.” – Express

  • Why should we listen to the IMF’s Brexit warning? – Ross Clark for The Spectator

No-deal Brexit would be ‘chaotic and damaging’ says Remain-dominated Brexit Select Committee

A no-deal Brexit would be “chaotic and damaging” for the economy and must be avoided, a cross-party committee of MPs has concluded. In a report backed by at least one prominent Tory proponent of Brexit, the MPs called for the government to prioritise its efforts on agreeing a withdrawal agreement with Brussels. It said that should Britain leave the EU without a negotiated settlement there would be “significant consequences”. “This would be chaotic and damaging for the UK economy and would leave many businesses facing huge uncertainty,” it said. – The Times (£)

Sir Vince Cable to dare Theresa May to deny Brexiteers’ ‘erotic spasm’ in Lib Dem conference speech

Sir Vince Cable will call on Theresa May to show “true leadership” and ignore hardline Tory Brexiteers wanting the “erotic spasm” of leaving the EU. The Liberal Democrat leader will dare the prime minister to “shock us” and offer a “people’s vote” on the final Brexit deal. In what is likely to be the 75-year-old’s last conference speech as head of his party, Sir Vince is expected to attack both main parties over their Brexit stance in his address on Tuesday. Outlining how voters have begun to “feel sorry” for Mrs May due to her “enemies” in the Conservative Party, Sir Vince is expected to say: “For the true believers – the fundamentalists – the costs of Brexit have always been irrelevant. – Sky News

Macron and Merkel are pushing Theresa May to delay Brexit, claims Sir Nick Clegg after ‘cloak and dagger’ tour of Europe…

The former Deputy PM claims he’s spoken to people working for Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel who are keen to keep Britain in the EU beyond next March. But he denied being involved in a “cloak and dagger conspiracy” to undermine Brexit despite his months-long shadow diplomacy campaign. Sir Nick was last week reported to be joining Tony Blair and John Major in a concerted effort to push the idea of a second referendum on European leaders. Asked about the campaign at Lib Dem conference in Brighton today, he said: “Alas it’s not a cloak and dagger conspiracy, as it was almost portrayed. I’ve been completely open about it. “I’ve been going around entirely openly speaking to folk that I’ve got to know over the years who are still in office – in one country it might be the prime minister, in another country it might be the foreign secretary. – The Sun

…as the former Lib Dem leader demands renegotiation of free movement to make Remain ‘attractive’…

Former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called for further time to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the EU in order to legislate for a ‘people’s vote’. He launched a scathing attack on what he called the Prime Minister’s “pig in a poke Brexit”.Sir Nick claimed that an extension to Brexit negotiations could be used to legislate for what he said was the “growing case” for a so-called ‘people’s vote’.He said: ”I think there’s a growing case for this — holding a people’s vote, so the people can have a say, not just politicians— possibly negotiating further reforms on freedom of movement to make remaining in the EU more attractive, all of that is possible under EU rules with the consent of the other governments.”Senior Government ministers have said in the past that any extension to Brexit negotiations would be a “complete betrayal” of the British public. – Express

…while anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller rules herself out of Lib Dem leadership

The anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller took centre stage at the Liberal Democrat conference today — and insisted that she had no intention of joining the party. The businesswoman gave a keynote speech on Europe amid speculation that she could mount a bid to replace Sir Vince Cable as leader. Earlier this month Sir Vince announced that he would resign as leader before the next election, and the conference has been dominated by his plans to open up the leadership contest to all non-paying supporters, including allowing a non-MP to run for the top job. – The Times (£)

  • ‘Stop saying I want to “Stop Brexit”‘, demands noted anti-Brexit campaigner Gina MillerMirror
  • Gina Miller friendzones Lib Dems – Guido Fawkes

Angela Merkel reportedly saying that UK ‘must suffer’ in Brexit negotiation

Appearing on BBC Newsnight, BBC political editor Nick Watt told Kirsty Wark that EU leaders have shown more flexibility in recent weeks, but the UK is still expected to “suffer” in the upcoming negotiations. Mr Watt said: “The mood music is much better from Michel Barnier and EU leaders. “The bottom line is that they want a deal but they don’t want a deal at any prize. And Angela Merkel has been heard to say in private that the UK must suffer a little bit in these Brexit negotiations. They can’t have a sweetheart deal.” However, according to Mr Watt, EU leaders have been encouraged to some extent by the Chequers proposal. Mrs May claimed the “alternative” to Chequers was a ‘no deal’ Brexit, during a BBC Panorama interview yesterday. Mr Watts said: “They think the Prime Minister has taken some serious political risk.” – Express

Michel Barnier backs Spain in battle for Gibraltar tax clampdown

Michel Barnier has backed Spanish plans that would force Gibraltar to end its status as an offshore tax haven after Brexit. After talks with Pedro Sánchez, the Spanish prime minister, Europe’s chief negotiator said that he would offer “all his support to Spain” in its demands for changes to how Gibraltar operates. Spain wants a special deal with Gibraltar over tax evasion, smuggling and cross-border workers as part of the Brexit deal. While the socialist government does not want to use its veto, agreed during Brexit talks last year, to lay claim to the sovereignty of Gibraltar, it does want to secure concessions. – The Times (£)

  • Spain seeks tougher legal guarantees on Gibraltar in Brexit deal – FT (£)

May will fight off rivals to deliver Brexit, academics predict

Prime Minister Theresa May is likely to survive in power to deliver the U.K.’s exit from the European Union in March, according to a poll of academics, even as Brexiteers led by Boris Johnson try to kill off her plans. An August survey by the U.K. in a Changing Europe, a research program based at King’s College London, found 88 percent of 102 respondents on its Brexit Policy Panel thought May would still be prime minister on March 29 — the day Britain is due to leave the bloc. They also put the chances of a no-deal Brexit at about 50 percent. The prime minister heads to Salzburg on Wednesday for an informal summit with European leaders to try to unlock negotiations that have been stalled for months. At the same time, she’s trying to stave off opposition from hardline euroskeptics pushing for a definitive split from the bloc. Johnson, her former foreign secretary, wrote in the Telegraph Monday May is heading for “a spectacular political car crash” with her proposal to keep close ties to the EU. – Bloomberg

Ross Clark: Why should we listen to the IMF’s Brexit warning?

Why are we so addicted to economic forecasts? We’ll know they are going to turn out to be wrong because they always do. And yet still we can’t seem to stop ourselves hanging on their every word. This morning it is the IMF’s turn, once more, to have its forecasts for the UK economy treated with undue seriousness. The Guardian reports that the IMF ‘backs Theresa May’s warnings over no-deal Brexit’ – by saying a ‘no deal’ scenario would lead to ‘substantial costs’ for the UK. But even May’s Chequers deal will condemn Britain to economic mediocrity, according to the IMF. The FT reports that, in the case of a smooth Brexit, the IMF sees Britain struggling to exceed growth of 1.5 per cent in the years ahead. – Ross Clark for The Spectator

The Sun: Blundering Chancellor Philip Hammond keeps making gaffes and has sabotaged Brexit talks

His boss, the Prime Minister, insists we will thrive whether there’s a Brexit deal or not. The EU has to know that she is unafraid to walk away if need be. What does her blundering Remainer Chancellor do? Volunteers his own apocalyptic warning about No Deal reversing our progress since the 2008 crash. Mr Hammond has leapt on the IMF’s latest doom-laden predictions and swallowed them whole, despite its abysmal forecasting record over the financial crisis, austerity and the Brexit vote. The Chancellor has already hampered vital No Deal preparations, undermined the new Brexit Secretary and only last week suggested delaying our departure. – The Sun says

John Redwood: Was the EU really trying to help Mrs May with its change of view?

Yesterday’s well  briefed stories in pro EU UK papers told us the EU is willing now to admit that the Northern Ireland border issues can of course be resolved by technology and checks away from the borders. Just as the Eurosceptics have always claimed, and as the UK government argued at the beginning of the Brexit process, there is no need for new barriers at the border and long delays whilst goods are checked at a border post. In this electronic age the issues of Excise,VAT and safety of product are already sorted out by electronic manifests and checks where needed away from the border. Most does not need physical inspection, as regulated operators file the necessary information so the authorities can do what they need to do without troubling the lorry driver. The authorities only need to do a few random inspections to keep the system honest, or to inspect where there is evidence of possible fraud, as they do today whilst we are still in the EU. – John Redwood’s Diary

Dan Hannan: A US-UK deal will revolutionize world trade

This week, at simultaneous launch events in Washington and London, I and others are publishing a draft US-UK trade agreement that would do precisely that. It has been drawn up over several months by market-oriented foundations on both sides of the Atlantic, including Cato, Heritage, the American Enterprise Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute. This is the first time, as far as anyone can remember, that all these heroic organizations have worked together on the same project. Its core idea is simple: What is legal in one country should automatically be legal in the other. Mutual recognition should cover goods, services and professional qualifications. If a drug is approved by the FDA, that should be good enough for the Brits. If a trader can practice in the City of London, he should be free to work on Wall Street. Where there are different standards, businesses should be free to follow whichever they prefer — something that will lead, unprecedentedly, to downward pressure on regulations. – Dan Hannan MEP for the Washington Examiner

  • British and US economists are set to unveil first draft of an ‘ideal’ post-Brexit free-trade agreement – The Sun

Liz Truss: Britain and the US are the dynamic duo of the world. We must resist the likes of Corbyn to keep it that way

The importance of our relationship with America cannot be understated. With Anglo-American capitalism increasingly under attack, those who believe in the power of free markets and enterprise to create wealth and social progress must stand up and be counted and champion our way of life. Because though the Left might not like it, Anglo-American free enterprise has been the single best generator of wealth and opportunity in history. Britain and the US remain the Wild West for ideas, where pioneers push each other towards ever greater heights in the white heat of free enterprise. No one knows their place, no one fears failure and no one is ashamed of success. – Liz Truss MP for the Telegraph (£)

Melanie Phillips: Hurrah for brave Belgian who dares cry Leave

Mon dieu! It is being hailed as possibly the most sensational conversion since Emperor Constantine embraced Christianity. Marc Roche, the Belgian-born former City of London correspondent for the arch Euro-federalist French daily Le Monde, and an eminent standard-bearer of the Europhile cultural establishment, has just published a book entitled Le Brexit va Réussir (Brexit will Succeed). He says that once Britain leaves the EU, it has the wherewithal not just to survive but to prosper. Cue utter stupefaction in France where it is an article of faith that there can be no life outside the EU, and where wanting to leave it is viewed as proof of mental derangement (no similarity with Britain’s Remainers, obviously). – Melanie Phillips for The Times (£)

Luke Watson: UK-EU defence integration remains dangerous reality

Recently, images have emerged of British paratroopers wearing EU flags on their sleeves during a European Union Force (EUFOR) training exercise in Bosnia and Herzegovina, causing a storm of outrage throughout this country. These soldiers were seen arriving for an annual international exercise, with the intention of providing a safe and secure environment in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It is part of the EU’s mission – Operation Althea – which focuses on supporting the country’s transition into integration with Europe. – Luke Watson of Get Britain Out for Comment Central

Ellie Keiller: Let’s turn the tide on Labour’s Brexit strategy

When it comes to Labour and Brexit, it’s fair to say that the party has been paddling in pretty shallow waters. Trying to define its position has been a bit like trying to hold on to water: you can’t touch it and it always seems to slip away. It felt as though we had reached the low point in the summer of 2016. Although the Labour Party had limply campaigned for Remain, its leader called for the invocation of Article 50 one day after the referendum result. As a Mancunian born and bred it was both refreshing and frustrating to see Andy Burnham, Labour mayor of Greater Manchester, edge his way to backing a public vote on Brexit. – Ellie Keiller for The Times (£)

Brexit in Brief

  • How May could seek to get a deal through the Commons with the support of Soft and Hard Brexiteers alike – Paul Goodman for ConservativeHome
  • EU and UK need each other on post-Brexit security – Jacek Czaputowicz, Linas Linkevičius and Teodor Meleșcanu for Politico
  • Labour’s cynical stance on Brexit is beyond contempt – Leo McKinstry for the Express
  • Anti-Chequers Tories plot rival conference in Birmingham – Express
  • Scallop War is over as fishermen strike deal to end furious clashes – Telegraph (£)
  • Young Brexiteer brilliantly explains why second Brexit vote would cause ‘Chaos’ – Express